Category Archives: Finances

Investing reading group

Over the coming few months, I plan to read three specific books on investing. Below is why, what I hope to accomplish, and an invitation to join me.

Over the last 3-4 years I have been tracking the performance of two retirement accounts Cathy and I inherited as part of her father’s estate. These investments are professionally “managed”. However, as I have tracked them, I have noted that the investments regularly under-perform vs. the DOW (and SP500), which are “unmanaged.” This has always puzzled me as it seems managed investments should do better than unmanaged ones.

Recently, I have started reading on investing and read that the DOW/SP500 beats over 85% of professionally managed funds over the long term.  While it may be normal, it does not seem to be in line with good stewardship.  So, I would like to do something different.

I am starting to read from a variety of authors to determine my strategy moving forward.  I would like to invite others interested to read and discuss these books. I do not see the book “club” as a detailed study but more of an overview. I will assign a book to read, give people a month to read it, and then meet a time or two to discuss each book. We would then go on to the next book the same way.  I would like to get through a few of the books before summer.

Here is my list of books I plan to read:

Investing in One Lesson
Random Walk

I have also been looking at recommendations of David Ramsey in The Total Money Makeover. I do not plan to read it together but may relate his conclusions at the end of our study.

While the focus will be on stocks, we will also look some at bonds and other investment options.

Continue reading Investing reading group

Learn, grow, and save via a weekly trip to the library

For twenty-six years, I worked a few minutes from the Topeka public library but I never got a library card there until March (2010). Once there however, I discovered a great number of resources that go beyond books: a wealth of books-on-tape, magazines, movies, and more. I am now visiting the library on a regular (approx. weekly) basis and recommend this to all who want to learn and grow and save money.

[note: article updated December 2014; for more on what I have learned on the topic of health, see our web site:]

What got me there was my search for a few good books to buy and read on diet/nutrition. I wanted to spend my limited time and budget for books on the best I could find. So I first assembled a list of potential books by spending some time at Amazon’s web site. While Amazon has helpful information and recommendation of others, there are so many recommended books on this topic, I decided I needed to see them myself before buying.

So over that first lunch hour, I took my list of titles to the library. They had most of the titles on my list and many others besides. I looked them over, eliminated some from my list, added others, and checked out about half a doze books that first I wanted to look at in more detail.

In addition to books on diet and nutrition, I have been exploring other topics: finances and investing (The Random Walk Guider To Investing), leadership (Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality; Today Matters; Good to Great), exercise, time management, and more.

But once there, I found more than just books at the library:

  • Books-on-tape , mostly CD’s.
  • Magazines, some of which you can check out (helping me to decide which ones to subscribe to myself and which ones to look at there)
  • Videos (DVD’s) of all kinds.

As my initial lunch hour at the library went quickly, I decided to go back the following week. I dropped off some of the books I was done with and found a couple more to check out to look and explored more of the resources above.

Books-on-tape – As a commuter (30 minutes a day each way), I was drawn to explore the library’s extensive set of books-on-tape. Actually, I may be benefiting more from this than the books themselves. At any one time, I will get 2-3 books-on-tape checked out. Some times, it only takes a short time to determine I am not interested. Frequently, I listen to a book-on-tape as a way to preview whether I want to read/purchase the book (I have seen moved on to listening to books via Audible, see my article on this).

I have listened to a variety of selections so far:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,
  • an excellent, short summary of the life of Isaac Newton
  • Good to Great, an engaging management book analyzing factors that separate good companies from great ones
  • Highest Duty, an autobiography of the pilot who successfully landed his plane that lost book engines in the Hudson River
  • Make Today Count: the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda by John Maxwell.
  • And more

The library’s magazine selection, some of which you can check out, has also been very helpful. I have decided to subscribe to three magazines (two on cooking; one on investing) as a result and decided to pass on a number of others, instead just looking at them at the library on a regular basis.

The Topeka Library is a very good. On-line you can reserve books and they will email you a note when it is ready to pick up.

Values-based financial planning for my graduates

Here is a note to my two daughters who are preparing to graduate from college on financial planning and goal setting.

David Barfield, March 2007

We have been working with a financial planner (Walt) to help us determine how best to use the financial resource given to us in Mom’s Dad’s estate. Below is an abbreviated version of what the planning took us through that I recommend you work through as you consider your financial future. You have been blessed with a college education without any debt, a good career for the days ahead, and a decent car to start off life. This can be a great launching pad for your financial life or can be wasted depending on what you do now.

Walt brought us through something called value-based financial planning.

1) Draft your financial values (which you should revisit annually) – He asked us to write down values we had that money would help to accomplish. Think about this question long and hard. Again, what do you want to do that money will help you with? Write them first broadly as values. Then think about the specifics of how money can help you accomplish this list.

Here is our initial list of values (in no particular order):    Continue reading Values-based financial planning for my graduates

Devotion – Not delaying in doing good

Last week I was reading a book called Your Money Counts by Howard Dayton of Crown Ministries. It is a good read..

Much of the material is familiar to me but I wanted to share one new concept that is challenged me. Below is the verse:

Pr 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you.

The verse is from a chapter of the book on debt. Their application is as follows: “Godly people should pay their debts and bills as promptly as they can. We have a policy of trying to pay each bill the same day we receive it to demonstrate to others that Continue reading Devotion – Not delaying in doing good